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Show Me The Meaning

My first memory of the awesome task of sorting out the role of money in my life was at age 9. I had a paper route. My father took me to a bank to open a joint savings account. He told me if I saved 90 cents of every dollar I earned, I could keep 10 cents and spend it any way I wanted. If I wanted to spend more than 10 cents on a dollar, he would charge me room and board for living in his house. I would pay 95 cents on a dollar.

A quick calculation and I realized I would have twice as much to spend by saving first than by spending first. It was a good lesson.

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So are the two lessons about the fruits of money in today's section. Book editor Ron Charles reviews Ethan Canin's new novel, "For Kings and Planets," about a 1970s midwestern student's bedrock values colliding with the sophistication and worldly affluence of New York City (Page B6).

Mr. Canin considers the relationship between a father who earned money working for it and a son who never had to work for the money that was a given in his life.

Monitor sports columnist Doug Looney interviews super agent (and here the adjective understates the actual achievement) Leigh Steinberg (Page B3). Mr. Steinberg has already made $100 million representing talented athletes. He parlayed the marriage of professional sports and television into inconceivable personal wealth. His thoughts on charity - and Mr. Looney's observations on those thoughts - offer insights on how a camel can make it through the eye of a needle.

The interview and book review echo common themes about the accumulation of wealth from the movie "Jerry Maguire" and the novel "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It's a '90s encounter of "show me the money" and the roaring '20s.

But scratch the surface of either story and very quickly one finds a more fundamental proposition: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

* Comments or questions? Write Ideas Editor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115, or e-mail:

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